President Rajapaksa’s London visit with his historic second address before the Oxford University Student Union handled by the London based Bell-Pottinger group’s PR outfit, in a bid to boost his rusty international image, ran into massive “war crimes” protests from Heathrow Airport to Oxford, compelling the Oxford Student Union to cancel the oration on December 2, “on security reasons”. The cancellation ruffled the Presidential confidence so much, they allowed an employee with Bell-Pottinger, to release their official statement, through her private e-mail address.
With that, the Colombo urbanites were busy checking on any possible arrest, as happened to former Chilean President Augusto Pinochet in London. But President Rajapaksa’s trip though private, was with British assurances that he would not be treated ‘Pinochet style’. Britain by now has committed itself to the Israeli government to amend the law and would not allow another ‘Tzipi Livni’ to occur. So that stands good enough for Rajapaksa too. But all of it is not what makes Sri Lanka important. It’s WikiLeaks.
The latest WikiLeaks downpour on November 28 has Sri Lanka again on the international media scene. A total of 3,325 ‘dip cables’ leaked this time, have Sri Lanka tagged on mostly internal governance and external relations and Milliband reported to have spent over 60% of his Foreign Ministry time on pre and post war Lanka, including war crimes committed.
WikiLeaks lives on controversy. In the past, they leaked Guantánamo Bay procedures, documents belonging to Church of Scientology, contents of Sarah Palin’s e-mail account and internet censorship lists. They leaked a US Apache heli attack on Reuters’ journalists in Iraq and then came back this year with 77,000 Pentagon dossiers on the Afghan war and over 390,000 US field reports by soldiers deployed for war in Iraq. They promise more ‘leaks’ to come, including a Pentagon cover up on a murder and a big leak on a private bank.
Making more enemies than friends, this time they have knotted up the whole world through 274 US embassies spread across the globe that since 1998 sent 251,287 diplomatic cables to the US State Department, 15,652 of them as ‘classified’. A week earlier on 22nd, WikiLeaks on Twitter said, “The coming months will see a new world, where global history is redefined. Keep us strong”. They have certainly created history, but, would its impact be positive ?
Certainly not, on this planet Earth. All these WikiLeaks’ open dumps instead of making other big powers raise eye brows over how the US diplomats call them, have all ganged up to condemn Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks, in very clear and strong words. They’ve all come to talk the same language as President Rajapaksa, though not in exact terms. For Rajapaksa, his war against the LTTE, was waged to save the ‘motherland’ and its ‘territorial integrity’. Mobilising the world against WikiLeaks, for Hillary Clinton, it is an ‘attack on the US and the world’ and the leaks ‘endanger innocent people’. For Japan, its a ‘criminal’ act. Britain said it’s ‘damaging to national security.’ France said it was an ‘attack on states’ sovereignty.’ NATO called it ‘dangerous and illegal’.
When Rajapaksa said he would not compromise while waging war, is what all of them now finally agree as ‘safeguarding national security’ in many different words. This national security tag seems to gel all regimes more firmer than ‘global terrorism’. With such galloping international unity over ‘national security’, US is called upon to prosecute WikiLeaks for its ‘unlawful access’ to confidential state information. Ms. Palin wants Assange and his WikiLeaks treated as a ‘terrorists’ and a ‘terrorist organisation’.
The shrinking global space for Assange, now wanted by Interpol with charges of rape in Sweden, denied by Assange as fabricated, was seen when Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa retracted his Deputy Foreign Minister Kintto Lucas’s earlier offer of asylum for Assange, in Ecuador.
The media in the powerful big world, is also divided. The prestigious Financial Times in a lead said “In order for states to conduct their affairs effectively, and ensure the security of their citizens, some secrets must remain”. ‘Their affairs’ and how much damage others should bear for security of ‘their citizens’ remain undefined. The French ‘left of centre’ daily Libération editor believes, “a state cannot permanently operate under the constant gaze of opinion” in this conflict ridden world. It’s the states’ right for covert activity, he accepts, as with Israel and in Sri Lanka.
All of it in the war against the LTTE, led to human rights violations, media bashing, arbitrary arrests, abductions, disappearances, extra judicial killings, in fact most things a modern civilised society can not afford to accept and live with. Now after WikiLeaks’ dumps, how different is the US and its allies in NATO, to that of Rajapaksa regime, to be left off the hook ?
US killings of Reuters workers cannot be less indecent than the killing of Lasantha, S.S. Rajan or Sampath Lakmal. US Drone attacks on Afghan civilians cannot be less inhuman than claims on hundreds of Sri Lankan Air Force sorties that bombed Tamil civilians. From Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo, nothing could be competitively far more worse in Sri Lanka. All US administrations from Harry S.Truman in 1950 to Johnson in 1963, to Bush and now Obama, with all others in between, have had the license to violate all international laws outside their United 54 States, in the name of “national security” with other big powers pitching in unhesitatingly.
‘National security’ for the US and its allies, is the collective use of economic, military and political power, sprinkled with diplomacy as in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Myanmar, as in Sri Lanka, ‘national security’ is waging war against its own citizens, with tacit support from international players. In India, the (single largest) democratic government, is using lethal fire power, obnoxious laws and defunct and corrupt legal systems against the seven north-east states and J&K, also in the name of ‘national security’. For Israel, national security is threatened by Palestinians they lambast and the Rajapaksa regime opted to reiterate its support, just a week ago.
What ‘national security’ means in real life to those millions, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, India, Burma and Sri Lankan Tamils who are still victims of a brutal war, is plain terror unleashed on them by a state, for its regime to survive with any or all violations of laws, human rights of citizens and at the extreme, even their devastated lives. Within this ‘national security’ there are NO PEOPLE to talk about.
These armed conflicts dragged on in the name of ‘national security’, whether they are explained the Rajapaksa way or not, is big business for big whales and small sprats. According to SIPRI, a Swedish peace research institute, before the Sri Lankan war concluded, there were 17 major conflicts in 2009, across the world.
The SIPRI Year Book 2010 published in July, summarises the arms manufacture by big powers including the US as follows. [quote] “In 2008 the world’s 100 largest arms-producing companies (outside China) maintained the upward trend in their arms sales, which increased by $39 billion to reach $385 billion. While companies headquartered in the United States again dominated the SIPRI Top 100, for the first time a non-US headquartered company registered the highest level of arms sales — BAE Systems of the United Kingdom.” [unquote]
For ‘national security’ of the regime and for small sprats, next year has LKR 214 billion for defence, at the expense of the tax payer. In both parts of the world rich and poor, what would these regimes live on, in the absence of defence budgets and arms business ? The UN that was brought to oversee global peace and development in every post WWII society, is a non entity, accused of corruption and nepotism.
Where are we heading now? Possibly a new world where the international voice against violations of laws and crimes committed on humanity cannot be any more selective as they were, during pre WikiLeaks dumps. Now they would have to challenge their own “democratic” states in the first world who fund them on social conscience. But will they? After Iraqi and Afghan ‘leaks’, no one asked for independent international investigations into any of the crimes committed in Iraq and in Afghanistan by the US and NATO forces. It was selective lobbying by these international watchdog organisations.
Today they have yet another option. Treat Rajapaksa and Sri Lanka the way Obama and the US is treated. For Rajapaksa, that would be cool, though his PR show in London failed for now with Tamil Diaspora protests. For now what could be written on the wall is, more lobbying for justice, fair play and above all human decency for deprived and devastated Tamil society would be a distant pray, unless people here honour their own responsibility of establishing a noble land of decency for all, as equals.